The Afters have been releasing music since their 2006 debut, I Wish We All Could Win,which featured their big hit Beautiful Love.” In 2008 they followed up with their strong offering of another solid album Never Going Back To Ok. The Texan band specializes in a pop/rock sound that would remind you a lot of Switchfoot basically taking some strengths of Switchfoot and then melding them with their own strengths. With the band’s third album Light Up The Sky the band tones down the pop/rock sound a bit and takes a different approach.
Once the first song hits your ears you can tell the band has changed up their style a bit. This album features a much more serious tone yet they still keep up their pop/rock sound with a slightly different spin to it. This album also has a bit of the CCM flavor thrown in but exhibiting a worshipful attitude as well topped with Josh Havens’ strong and intricate vocals. I really enjoy his voice and that is one thing that has always made me like The Afters.
I thoroughly enjoyed the lyrics on this album. While not the most poetic songwriting ever the lyrics show that the guys wear their faith on their sleeves. Even though the words can seem pretty simple the message is very deep. These lyrics really make you think of where you are in your walk with Christ and how he fits into the picture of your life. The band covers numerous themes of God always being there no matter what you are going through lifting you up through those problems being ever willing to let you start over with him go to him for answers all the while knowing that you are his and his alone. There are many great themes like this but the main theme that the whole album encompasses is encouragement and how God is there with you during the rough patches in your life. It becomes really easy to apply these songs to your life. This would be a great album to share with non-Christian friends as well because it talks about issues we all go through and then how Christ can be the solution to all those problems. This attribute of the album highlights the personal side of the band and how this message applies to their lives as they have hung on to Christ with all the struggles they have dealt with in their lives recently.
The album starts off with one of the best songs that in my opinion the band has ever written and it quickly became one of my favorite songs. The title track “Light Up The Sky ” has a very catchy melody and a chorus you will have in your head for a very long time. I love how this song shows that there are all of these signs and wonders around us showing us that God is near even when we think everything in our lives is going wrong. “You Lift Me Up” is my next favorite song off this album. This song has an infectious pop melody and goes great with the song’s uplifting theme. It talks about how when we are weak God will lift us up from the darkness of our life and we will be caught up in his comforting love.
So the slight issue here is that the top two songs for me happen to be the first two songs on the album. But this really doesn’t become much of a problem when the rest of the album continues with these great melodies and encouraging messages.
“Start Over” gets a little repetitive in the chorus but you easily get the idea that with Christ you can start over and have a new beginning. “Runaway” and “I Am Yours” are two other standout tracks. I really like the simple message of “I Am Yours” that there is no denying that you are Christ’s;that simple message means everything.
“Life Is Sweeter” is mellower through the verses and continues a pop tune sound through the chorus. This song talks about how great life will be on “the other side” of this current life. “Say It Now” slows things down the most on the album and is a nice ballad. “We Won’t Give Up” reminds you a lot of the band’s sound from the past two albums and is a very up-beat pop/rock tune. This track also continues the theme already touched on in other tracks of not being kept down from the trials of life.
“Saving Grace” maintains the energy from the last track and talks about how Christ is our saving grace. “For The First Time” ends this album on a high note. This song talks about the new life we get from Christ when he is in our life for the first time.
Overall I really like this album and thoroughly enjoy each of the songs. For me “Light Up The Sky” and “You Lift Me Up” blow most the songs out of the water. Part of this could be that they connected with me the most. But it’s pretty easy to find a connection of some sort with at least one song if not several in this collection. There is a bit of change in musical styles in this album from their previous two but if you like The Afters at all you will still like this. I think it shows a lot of growth in the band both lyrically and musically. Some of the songs have a similar style and tempos but I don’t think that hurts the album much. Each track has its own distinct qualities and the band shifts from a focus of guitars drums keys and string arrangements. Message wise this is a great album for anyone going through tough times and needing some encouragement. The guys show you where their strength comes from and that with their strong faith they have a reason to keep going on which they boldly share with us. This is definitely my favorite album by them and I recommend you checking this album out. The Afters are also great live so I was glad to be able to see them on the Rock and Worship Roadshow the other night. So if you haven’t checked out this talented pop/rock band I highly suggest picking up an album or going to see them live.